You can’t always get what you want
Lee Gormley looks at the options and dilemmas facing Carl Frampton as his ‘dream’ fight night at Windsor Park approaches…
Boxers don’t always get what they deserve.
The sport doesn’t work that way.
It’s an oft occurrence in such an unforgiving business to see particular names overlooked when they deserve title fights, a better spot in the rankings or a more lucrative pay cheque.
For Carl Frampton, fighting in front of his passionate home support at Windsor Park in Belfast has always been his dream scenario.
‘The Jackal’ made a welcome return to action in November 2017 after ten frustrating months of waiting in the wings, during which he endured a cancelled fight and the beginning of a legal battle with his former mentor Barry McGuigan.
After overcoming Horacio Garcia and then Nonito Donaire under the guidance of new trainer Jamie Moore and promoter Frank Warren, things started to look up for Frampton. The newly forged partnership with Moore seemed to give the Belfast native a new lease of life in the ring, while Warren put together two big shows on home soil.
However, the 18 August date confirmed as the long awaited Windsor Park ‘dream’ outing for Frampton has ironically produced frustration, with the 31-year-old now preparing to take on an opponent whose name is of little significance to many fans. The likely announcement of Australian Luke ‘Action’ Jackson as the man who will stand toe to toe with Frampton this summer at the home of his beloved Northern Ireland national football team is somewhat underwhelming.
However, Frampton and promoter Warren have been boxed into a corner for various reasons. For some time now the big names and world champions of the featherweight division have been preached and paraded as ‘potential', ‘probable' or ‘possible’ dancing partners for Belfast’s home hero. For various reasons though, such declarations have failed to come to fruition.
Leo Santa Cruz? The Mexican has seemingly made it clear he’s unwilling to travel to Frampton’s home patch for a rubber match and was recently involved in a rather unnecessary second scuffle with Abner Mares.
Gary Russell Jr? The American outpointed Joseph Diaz in May, reportedly sustained an injury and hasn’t fought more than once in a single year since 2014.
Oscar Valdez? Injuries sustained from a brilliant battle with former Frampton rival Scott Quigg, who went into their entertaining pairing massively overweight, have ruled him out until at least late in 2018.
Then there’s Josh Warrington. Following the Yorkshireman’s impressive and widely unexpected victory over Welshman Lee Selby at a rapturous Elland Road, Warrington’s name was swiftly added to the ever-growing list of no-gos for Belfast.
“Windsor Park might be too soon,” Warrington admitted in the wake of repelling Selby, as he made it clear he wanted to consider his options first, rather than be rushed back into the ring in August.
In an otherwise exciting 126lbs division, there aren’t many other eye-catching or worthy opponents. That’s when Jackson came into the equation.
Simply put, Frampton deserves better. But what’s a boxer and a promoter to do when a better choice of opponent simply isn’t available?
Frampton is an iconic figure. A former super-bantamweight world champion. A former featherweight world champion. Only the second ever Irish two-weight world titlist. The 2016 Fighter of the Year. A man who has helped bridge the gap between communities in his native homeland.
Many would argue Frampton deserves to have that career-defining, historic night he’s always dreamt of in August.
Of course, he’ll still have the opportunity to perform on his desired Windsor Park platform, but not a grand occasion with the highest stakes available like Warrington was granted in Leeds back in May.
Jackson, the 33-year-old, Tasmania-born challenger, unbeaten in 16 bouts and possessing 7 knockouts on that record, may not warrant his place on the main event of a ‘stadium’ bill but the experienced Warren has clearly run out of options.
Frampton will still likely draw a massive crowd to the Belfast stadium late in August, while Tyson Fury being strategically placed on the undercard will undoubtedly help shift tickets.
The match-up with Warrington has also been pinned as an incentive for the Tigers Bay fighter when the dust settles on Windsor Park.
So why not postpone making the Windsor Park dream a reality until next year and waiting for a worthy adversary to become available? Well, there’s always danger in delaying such an event. Anything can happen at any time in boxing and a simple adjournment could end up seeing such long-craved plans ultimately collapse for any number of reasons.
He may not have the prominent foe he desired, but on 18 August, in front of his admiring home support at Windsor Park, Frampton, the fighting pride of Belfast, will finally realise his dream ring outing. It’s the least he deserves.